Participants and trainers at the recent HROC International Training.

Tenth HROC International Training: Starting in 2011, the Healing and Rebuilding Our Community (HROC) program began conducting international trainings to train high quality candidates and spread the program outside of East Africa. The current training included two participants from Kinshasa, the capital city of DRC, sent by Muindi Peace Center which is part of Kinshasa Quaker Meeting and sponsored by Canadian Friends Service Committee. The Mennonite Central Committee in Chad sent an additional participant so HROC may expand there also. There were three participants from Rwanda, one from Burundi, four from South Kivu, one from North Kivu, and two from Nairobi, Kenya.

Small group discussion at apprentice workshops for trainee facilitators.

The training was conducted at the HROC Center in Musanzi, Rwanda. It was a successful training because most of the fourteen participants were serious about becoming active HROC facilitators. In prior trainings, there were often a number of people who I call “peace tourists” who attend only to visit Rwanda and have little interest or intention of conducing HROC workshops in their home communities.

The next two HROC International Trainings will be from February 4 to 24 and July 8 to 28, 2018 and anyone interested can contact me at

Participants at HROC International Gathering

HROC International Gathering: HROC workshops are currently being conducted in Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) (South Kivu, North Kivu, and Orientale provinces), Central African Republic, Kenya, northern Nigeria, South Sudan, Uganda, and the United States. Except for South Sudan, all the other HROC programs were represented by the 19 delegates.

The most satisfying aspect of the gathering was that all the participants were actively involved in organizing and conducting HROC workshops. As a result the discussions were pertinent because they meet their on-the-ground needs.  Since the various programs were in various stages of development, from 13 years of existence to a year, in various contexts, the interchanges were mutual beneficial. For me, personally, it was rewarding to see how much the program has expanded, the beneficial effects of the program, and how much had and will be accomplished.

For example, in the last two years the HROC program in Burundi under Innovations in Peacebuilding-Burundi (IPB) has conducted 201 workshops with 7778 participants including 61 basic HROC workshops with 1476 participants. Fifty half-day introductory seminars were conducted in secondary schools in Bujumbura. In North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo, with support from Mennonite Central Committee, the HROC-North Kivu program has done 53 workshops for 1325 participants in the last two years. They, like everyone, which that they had the funds to do more workshops.

Ugandans giving their country presentation.

At the other end of the spectrum, HROC in Uganda in two years has managed to conduct only 9 workshops for 153 participants. They have only two active trained facilitators. While other people have been trained as facilitators, they have not been willing to participate in conducing workshops.

Florence Ntakarutimana, formerly of the Burundi HROC program, is organizing HROC workshops in 93 communities in Central African Republic and Orientale Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This major program is being organized by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) with funds from USAID. This program has been very successful in bringing Catholic, Protestant, and Moslem people in the same community to reconnect after considerable violence, some of it religiously based. Florence has also led “teaser” workshops in western Cameroon and northeast Nigeria affected by Boko Haram.

HROC in the United States has not been very robust. Kathy Railsback gave a report on the seven workshops they had done for immigrants in Boise, ID, one which had to be cancelled since only three participants showed up. One constraint was that in America it is difficult for people to find three days in a row for a workshop – in one of these workshops in Boise they did it on three successive Saturdays, but then the participants tended to forget some of what they had learned and experienced the previous week. While there are been a few other HROC workshops in the United States in the last two years, communications across the vast expanse of the US has led to unclear reporting.

While the decision has not yet been made, I think the group will plan for the Third International Gathering two years hence in 2019, probably in Rwanda again.


Update on Assassinations on Mt. Elgon

Caskets containing remains of Robert Juma and his driver.

Pastor Rure , HROC facilitator and citizen reporter, presenting our peace message at Robert Juma’s funeral.

Further to my report of July 7 on the Assassination of Robert Juma (see here are some updates. In retaliation for the assassinations, two suspects have been lynched by mobs in revenge, six people have been arrested, and two illegal guns recovered. Tension in the community is extremely high. The Ndorobo/Ogiek community who were the minority clan attacked during the conflict in 2006/2008 is fleeing from Chebyuk, the area of the assassination, to seek safety elsewhere after several additional attacks by armed bandits. The families of the deceased, pastors from the mountain community, and the Peace Center have organized a ‘Peace Prayer Caravan’ to be concluded tomorrow. TCSC will organize listening and civic education sessions, citizen reporting monitoring of the situation, and Alternative to Violence and Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities workshops as needed.


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From 1998 to 2016, David Zarembka was the Coordinator of the African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams. He continues his peacemaking work in East Africa with Transforming Communities for Social Change (TCSC) and Friends Church Peace Team (FCPT). He has been involved with East and Central Africa since 1964 when he taught Rwandan refugees in Tanzania. David is married to Gladys Kamonya and lives in western Kenya. David is the author of A Peace of Africa: Reflections on Life in the Great Lakes Region.


David Zarembka

Transforming Communities for Social Change (TCSC)

P. O. Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya
Phone in Kenya: 254 (0)726 590 783, in US: 301/765-4098
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